For my birthday this year, I found a way to have my cake and do something healthy for my body, too. A chocolatey indulgence without the guilt or sugar crash.

I wanted my birthday this year to be special. After all, I was celebrating my 10 anniversary of my 25th birthday. I headed to downtown Denver with my husband for a luxurious night in the historical Oxford Hotel.

unnamed-2When I say “historical,” I mean this dramatic boutique hotel opened in 1891, is a proud member of the National Register of Historic Places and feels like you are stepping back in time. From the grand wooden staircases to the antique furniture that makes each room uniquely stylish, there is truly no place on Earth that can compare with the Oxford.

I was glad I brought my cherry red lipstick. I would fit right in.

The Almond Joy

I’m an indulger; I confess. In fact, I have a reputation for eating an entire — yes, entire — angel food cake (no toppings) every year at my mom’s house for my big day. But every year, life grants me experiential-based wisdom. And a slower metabolism. Those two factors combined led me to swap that old tradition for something smarter, but just as sweet.

For 85 minutes, I lay in a dark, quiet room and indulged in coconut, warm dark chocolate and almond deliciousness. The Signature Almond Joy Experience, it was called. Then I showered off and went out to dinner.

unnamed-1The Almond Joy Experience is one of the Oxford Club’s most renowned spa treatments, because it smells as incredible as it feels, and the feeling lasts all night.

My therapist was highly trained and from France, complete with a soothing accent and elegant European demeanor. First she exfoliated my full body with a Sanitas Coconut Sugar Scrub, which polished my skin and ignited the circulation. I was beyond thrilled to see a spa using the Boulder-based, natural Sanitas line, which has been one of my favorites for years and has a solid reputation for its quality. The scrub alone would have made an exquisite, relaxing experience.

But then came the chocolate.

Oh yes, she then gently and slowly covered my entire body with a warm, silky chocolate body masque — a sensation so indulgent that it actually is as yummy as eating the stuff. The room was filled with the heavenly scent of chocolate, and I felt like I was swimming in a fondue pot. I seriously considered licking my shoulders a few times, but managed to refrain. Somehow.

The body wrap that followed helped. (Maybe that’s why they do it; to keep people from eating the product, which is great for your skin, and super moisturizing.) My therapist slowly wrapped my chocolate-smothered body in a warm cocoon, and proceeded to massage my face, shoulders, neck and head. I never wanted her to unwrap me. Unfortunately, she did.

She guided me downstairs to the locker rooms, where I rinsed off (they even found me a special hair covering to prevent it from getting wet, since I had dinner plans that evening). I returned upstairs to the dim waiting room and poured myself a cup of tea. At that moment, my therapist came out with a cup of tea for me, too, so I double-fisted my way back into the treatment room.

The Almond Joy finished up with a 25-minute massage with warm almond oil. When I left, I barely recognized my own skin, it was so lush and silky, and it smelled sweet, too.

The spa

The 26-year-old Oxford Club itself is bursting with as much character as the hotel. It’s known as a spa “triple threat,” because it offers a spa, fitness facility and salon. You can treat your body and mind, from nails to hair to your heart, literally. Then, you can head to the in-hotel restaurant, McCormick’s Fish House, for a fresh seafood lunch or dinner. Expect only the best at the Oxford; New York Times Travel named McCormick’s one of Denver’s best restaurants.

unnamed-3Because the spa is set up in such an old, Victorian building, you can expect some quirks — but they only make the experience more memorable. The locker room and showers are on a separate floor from the treatment rooms, which meant I had to walk down an open flight of stairs covered in chocolate (and luckily a dark-colored robe instead of a white one!) — and past people heading downstairs to the fitness room — before I could rinse off. And I somehow got lost in the labyrinth of a hotel while trying to navigate back from the spa to my room. But that may have been due to my completely blissed out head-in-the-clouds, after the treatment of a lifetime.

I didn’t even have a chance to check out the state-of-the-art fitness center or the eucalyptus steam room. I did get up close and personal in the retail room, though, which boasts shelves of Sanitas products — including a body scrub that isn’t exactly the Almond Joy, but it’s not a bad at-home substitute.

It’s no wonder Conde Nast Traveler ranked the Oxford spa the 26th top hotel spa in the United States mainland in 2012.

The hotel

Everyone in Colorado knows about the Oxford. Everyone dreams of staying there. The charm, the brick facade, the location — just down the street from historic Union Station and walking distance to Coors Field — the Oxford feels like a vacation within a vacation.

In fact, Conde’ Nast Traveler named this hotel one of the “World’s Best Places” in 2013.

Although the building is the “most historic” hotel in Denver, it’s comfortable and luxurious. Upgrades bring you free wifi, multiple flatscreen TVs in your room, comfortable pillows and comforters and a heavenly bed, poised below a towering dark wooden headboard. The classic elegance, the drama, the romance, the old-world charm with modern luxuries — I fell in love with this place, and I was honored to welcome a new year of my life in its embrace.

Don’t miss the Cruise Room downstairs, one of Denver’s top cocktail lounges. Try the Red Widow martini, a combo of Van Gogh Cool Peach Vodka, Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, St. Germain and jalapeno juice. Yes, you read that right. I would have never ordered it without prompting, but our server recommended it, and it was the best martini I’ve ever had. The jalapeno gave just the right punch, but was cooled off by the peach vodka. The end result was something completely unique, unexpected and delightful — sort of like the entire Oxford Hotel experience.

Tip: Check out the Oxford Sweet Spa Escape, a getaway that includes one of the spa’s culinary-inspired treatments, a night at the hotel, unlimited group exercise classes (from yoga to Pilates to dance) and overnight valet parking.

Guest Post:  Aimee Heckel @aimeemay

Full Disclosure: Some of the travel and services were hosted, but no monetary compensation was received for the review of this location.